US, Jamaican rivals embrace at church service
LONDON, England (AFP) — Members of the US and Jamaican athletics teams embraced each other following a service at Birmingham Cathedral Saturday to welcome them to Britain ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.
Around 20 US competitors and several rivals from the Jamaica squad attended the ecumenical service at the Anglican cathedral in Britain's second city, central England, where both athletics teams are in pre-Games training.
Sporting their team kit, the athletes heard how the Olympics were able to bring people together from different faiths to foster peace.
The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, said the Games represented an uplifting display of peaceful human endeavour and achievement.
"The Olympic and Paralympic Games promote the common good and they have already had an enormous and beneficial impact within our local communities," he told the congregation.
When the Olympic torch visited Birmingham, it travelled through one of the most religiously diverse areas of the city, he said.
"People of many different faiths alongside those with no religious allegiance came together as men and women of goodwill to pursue peace with everyone," he said.
Longley also offered prayers and a moment of remembrance for those killed or wounded in Friday's shootings at a cinema in Colorado, and for those left bereaved.
The Jamaica team is based at the University of Birmingham, while the US squad is training at the city's Alexander Stadium.
The US delegates also attended a civic reception Saturday hosted by Birmingham's lord mayor. The Jamaican squad will attend a similar reception Sunday.
US hurdler Kerron Clement, who won gold at Beijing 2008 in the 4x400 metres relay, was among those at the church service.
Jamaica's 100 and 200 metres world record holder Usain Bolt and fellow sprinter Yohan Blake were not present.
However, Bolt's second cousin Maureen Davis, who lives in nearby Wolverhampton, did attend.